Fiddler on the Roof
The award-winning tale of Tevye the Dairyman and his family’s struggles in a changing Russia is a true musical theatre tradition.
Show Essentials
14
Roles
+ Ensemble
PG
Rated
2
Acts

Full Synopsis

Act One

During the Prologue ("Tradition"), Tevye explains the role of God's law in providing balance in the villagers' lives. He describes the inner circle of the community and the larger circle, which includes the constable, the priest and countless other authority figures. He explains, "We don't bother them and so far, they don't bother us." He ends by insisting that, without their traditions, he and the other villagers would find their lives "as shaky as a fiddler on the roof."

Three of Tevye's daughters, Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava, wonder if the matchmaker will ever find them the men of their dreams ("Matchmaker"). The matchmaker, Yente, tells Golde that she has selected the butcher, Lazar Wolfe, as a match for Tzeitel.

Tevye reflects on how much he wishes he had a small fortune ("If I Were a Rich Man"). A group of villagers, including an outsider, Perchik, approaches him with news of a violent pogrom in a nearby village. Tevye invites Perchik, a young revolutionary student, to come to his home for Sabbath dinner and arranges for him to instruct his daughters.

Motel, the tailor, attempts to ask Tevye for Tzeitel's hand, but gets tongue-tied. The family and their guests welcome the Sabbath ("Sabbath Prayer").

Tevye goes to meet Lazar Wolfe, the butcher, and agrees to the match with Tzeitel. A boisterous celebration ensues, involving the villagers and the Russians, who also congregate in the tavern ("L'Chaim").

As Tevye staggers home, he meets the Constable, who warns him that a demonstration is going to be planned against the Jews of Anatevka. In his inebriation, Tevye conjures The Fiddler, who plays his violin as Tevye dances his way home.

Tevye appears and tells Tzeitel about her engagement to Lazar Wolfe. Golde rejoices but, after she leaves, Motel tells Tevye that he and Tzeitel gave each other a pledge to marry. After a struggle with himself, Tevye agrees to their marriage. He leaves and Motel and Tzeitel rejoice ("Miracle of Miracles").

Tevye decides to manufacture a wild nightmare ("The Dream") to convince Golde that the match with Lazar will result in Tzeitel's death at the hands of the butcher's first wife, Fruma-Sarah. Golde is so horrified that she insists on a marriage between Tzeitel and Motel.

The villagers are gossiping in the street about the mix-up in Tzeitel's wedding plans. As Chava enters Motel's tailor shop, a group of Russians on the street taunt her. Fyedka, a Russian youth, insists that they stop. After they leave, Fyedka follows Chava into the shop. He tries to speak with her, but leaves quickly when Motel enters. Motel places his wedding hat on his head.

The musicians lead us to the wedding. The company sings ("Sunrise, Sunset") as the traditional Jewish ceremony takes place. To the villagers' dismay, Perchik asks Hodel to dance with him, and she accepts, performing the forbidden act of dancing with a man. Everyone else follows suit. As the dance reaches a wild high point, the Constable and his men enter. They destroy everything in sight. Perchik grapples with a Russian and is hit with a club. The constable bows to Tevye and says " I am genuinely sorry. You understand?" Tevye replies with mock courtesy, "Of course." The family begins to clean up after the destruction.

Act Two

During the Prologue, Tevye chats with God about recent events. Perchik tells Hodel that he is leaving to work for justice in Kiev. He proposes to her and she accepts ("Now I Have Everything"). He promises to send for her as soon as he can. Tevye approves in spite of his misgivings. After they leave, he asks Golde if she thinks their own arranged marriage has somehow also turned into a romance ("Do You Love Me?")

On a village street, Yente tells Tzeitel that she has seen Chava with Fyedka. The news that Yente has gleaned from a letter from Perchik becomes gossip for the villagers, who turn it into a song that totally distorts the truth ("The Rumor").

Tevye takes Hodel to the railroad station. She is going to Siberia, where Perchik has been sent after his arrest ("Far from the Home I Love").

The villagers are once again gossiping about a new arrival at Motel and Tzeitel's. At Motel's shop, we learn that the new arrival is a sewing machine. Fyedka and Chava speak outside the shop. She promises to speak to Tevye about their love for each other. Tevye appears, and Chava tries to talk to him about Fyedka. Tevye refuses to listen to her and forbids her to ever to speak to him about Fyedka again.

Tevye returns home to learn from Golde that Chava and Fydeka have been married by the priest. Tevye says that Chava is dead to them. He sings of his love for Chava ("Little Bird"). When Chava appears to ask his acceptance, he cannot allow himself to answer her plea. Chava exits as unseen voices sing ("Tradition").

Yente is trying to fix up Tevye's remaining daughters with two boys as future husbands. The Constable brings the news that everyone in the town has to sell their houses and household goods and leave Anatevka in three days. As the villagers think of their future, they sing fondly of the village they are leaving ("Anatevka").

The family is packing the wagon to leave. Tzeitel and Motel are staying in Warsaw until they have enough money to go to America. Hodel and Perchik are still in Siberia. Chava appears with Fyedka. Tevye refuses to acknowledge her. Chava explains that they are also leaving because they cannot stay among people who can do such things to others. They are going to Cracow. Tzeitel says goodbye to them and Tevye prompts Tzeitel to add, "God be with you!" Chava promises Golde that she will write to her in America. Chava and Fyedka leave. Final goodbyes are said as Tevye begins pulling the wagon. Other villagers join the circle, including The Fiddler. Tevye beckons to The Fiddler to follow him. The Fiddler tucks his fiddle under his arm and follows the group upstage as the curtain falls.

Casting

Casting

Cast Size: Medium (11 to 20 performers)
Cast Type: Children
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

Tevye

The likeable, hard-working, pious dairyman who always tries to see the positive side of life. He is a proud patriarch and father of five daughters, closely raised according to the old scriptures.

Gender: male
Age: 45 to 60
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: Ab2
Golde
Tevye's strong-willed wife who wishes for her daughters to have good husbands and live easier than she and Tevye.
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Tzeitel
Tevye's eldest daughter, who is madly in love with Motel. She is loyal to her family but typically challenges the town's traditions.
Gender: female
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Hodel
Tevye's second eldest daughter, who becomes involved with Perchik. She eventually leaves Anatevka to join Perchik in Siberia.
Gender: female
Age: 18 to 23
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Chava
Tevye's middle daughter who loves to read. Falls in love and runs off with Fydeka, a Russian soldier.
Gender: female
Age: 15 to 20
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Shprintze
Tevye's fouth eldest daughter who takes lessons at home from Perchik.
Gender: female
Age: 9 to 13
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Bielke
Tevye's youngest daughter. Takes lessons at home from Perchik.
Gender: female
Age: 8 to 12
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Yente
The meddling matchmaker. She is a widow and village busybody who knows all of the town gossip.
Gender: female
Age: 50 to 60
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Motel
The poor and meek tailor who shares a deep love with Tzeitel. Sensitive and nervous, but sincere and friendly.
Gender: male
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: F#4
Vocal range bottom: E3
Perchik
The outspoken student and visitor to Anatevka, who constantly challenges the traditions of the town. He eventually falls in love with Hodel.
Gender: male
Age: 20 to 30
Vocal range top: E4
Vocal range bottom: B2
Lazar Wolf
The feisty, brawny butcher and the town's wealthiest citizen who wishes to marry Tzeitel.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: F#4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Avram
Runs the local bookshop and keeps the town advised of all the news in the area.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 60
Vocal range top: Eb4
Vocal range bottom: D3
Grandma Tzeitel
Golde's deceased grandmother, who endorses the marriage between Tzeitel and Motel.
Gender: female
Age: 60 to 75
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: C#4
Fruma-sarah
Lazar's Wolf's deceased first wife. She becomes enraged when her husband plans to wed Tzeitel.
Gender: female
Age: 35 to 45
Vocal range top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: C4
Constable
Russian military official stationed near Anatevka who knows the villagers well, however he has superficial relationships with the villagers.
Gender: male
Age: 35 to 45
Fyedka
A strong, young Russian soldier who sees past his military obligations and falls in love with Chava. He challenges Tevye's imposed silence.
Gender: male
Age: 20 to 25
Ensemble
Villagers, Russian Soldiers
Full Song List
Fiddler On The Roof: Tradition
Fiddler On The Roof: Matchmaker
Fiddler On The Roof: If I Were A Rich Man
Fiddler On The Roof: Sabbath Prayer
Fiddler On The Roof: To Life
Fiddler On The Roof: Miracle Of Miracles
Fiddler On The Roof: The Dream
Fiddler On The Roof: Sunrise, Sunset
Fiddler On The Roof: Now I Have Everything
Fiddler On The Roof: Do You Love Me?
Fiddler On The Roof: The Rumor
Fiddler On The Roof: Far From The Home I Love
Fiddler On The Roof: Anatevka

Show History

Inspiration

Fiddler on the Roof, with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and a book by Joseph Stein, is based on the characters from an anthology of tales entitled Tevye and his Daughters (or Tevye the Dairyman) by Sholem Aleichem.  The musical tends to follow the chronology of the stories, ending with the residents of Anatevka being forced to leave their village.  In choosing the title for their piece, the creative team looked to Chagall's painting, The Fiddler, a metaphor for survival through tradition and joyfulness, in a life of uncertainty and imbalance.

Bock, Harnick and Stein had all previously worked together on the musical, The Body Beautiful, and came up with the idea of adapting Aleichem's stories to stage.  They selected three unconnected Tevye monologues, in which he relates the romantic adventures of his young daughters.  Their goal was to use these isolated tales as the basis for a play about the whole community, to tell a larger story that has a dramatic progression from beginning to end, while retaining the rich feeling and tone of the original material.  In its early stages, Stein faced the difficulty of essentially having to write text for the new stories while Bock and Harnick wrote 19 songs, eventually settling on a handful for the show.

Productions

After tryouts in Detroit in July and August of 1964, Fiddler on the Roof premiered at Broadway's Imperial Theatre on September 22, 1964.  Starring Zero Mostel and featuring direction and choreographer from Broadway icon, Jerome Robbins, the production ran for 3,242 productions and survived two different transfers, finishing its run at The Broadway Theatre. The original West End production opened on December 28, 1976, with Chaim Topol in its lead role, playing for over 2,000 performances.

With such long-running success on both sides of the pond, it was only natural that a number of major revivals would occur.  Fiddler on the Roof has had five Broadway revivals in 1976 (Winter Garden Theatre), 1981 (Lincoln Center's New York State Theater), 1990 (George Gershwin Theatre), 2004 (Minskoff Theatre) and 2015 (Broadway Theatre).  London revivals occurred in 1983 at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, 1994 at the London Palladium and 2007 at the Savoy Theatre.  In addition, the musical has seen four UK tours and one major U.S. tour, titled Topol in Fiddler on the Roof: The Farewell Tour.

Fiddler on the Roof has also been produced in a handful of international productions.  Israeli impresario, Giora Godik, staged a Hebrew language version and soon followed that up with a Yiddish version of the same script.  The musical has hit the stage in countries like Spain, France and Japan.

Cultural Influence

  • The original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof was the first to surpass 3,000 performances in a single run.  

Critical Reaction

"One of the most glowing creations in the history of the musical theater. ...Filled with laughter and tenderness.  It catches the essence of a moment in history with sentiment and radiance."
– The New York Times

"Fiddler on the Roof is a universal story of hope, love and acceptance, a stunning, joyful and jubilant musical masterpiece."
– New York Daily News

"[Fiddler on the Roof] remains a prime example of how musicals with universally relevant themes can elicit timeless appeal. The show's deeply affecting view of familial devotion, cultural pride, and resiliency in the face of shameful oppression all graced with undercurrents of mythical beauty lend the piece an operatic eloquence."
– Backstage

"One of the great musical comedies of our era."
– Newsweek Magazine

"One of the unforgettable stage musical creations of modern Broadway history."
– Variety

"A remarkable musical.... It always works, perhaps because it evokes haunting, half-conscious memories of a world that still lingers deep inside us."
– Women's Wear Daily

"This spellbinding re-creation of the wonderful world of Sholom Aleichem [is] ...a joyous affirmation that America is the world capital of musical comedy.... Seldom has any musical blended so magically music, dance, mummery and literature...."
– Cue

"Joseph Stein and collaborators have... arrived at a remarkably effective mixture that thoroughly entertains without ever losing a sense of connection with more painful realities that underlie its humor, its beauty, its ritual celebrations."
– Saturday Review

"[Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick] created bittersweet harmonies. It's their rich and poignantly beautiful score that make this show positively unforgettable."
– Chicago Theater Beat

Tony® Award

1965 - Musical Play, Winner (Joseph Stein (book), Jerry Bock (music), Sheldon Harnick (lyrics), Harold Prince (producer))
1965 - Best Actor in a Musical, Winner (Zero Mostel)
1965 - Producer -- Musical Play, Winner (Harold Prince)
1965 - Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Winner (Marina Karnilova)
1965 - Scenic Design, Nominee (Boris Aronson)
1965 - Best Author, Winner (Joseph Stein)
1965 - Best Costume Design, Winner (Patricia Zipprodt)
1965 - Actor -- Musical Star, Winner (Zero Mostel)
1965 - Best Choreography, Winner (Jerome Robbins)
1965 - Actress -- Musical Featured Or Supporting, Winner (Maria Karnilova)
1965 - Best Direction Of A Musical, Winner (Jerome Robbins)
1965 - Author -- Musical, Winner (Joseph Stein)
1965 - Best Producer of a Musical, Winner (Harold Prince)
1965 - Choreographer, Winner (Jerome Robbins)
1965 - Best Scenic Design, Nominee (Boris Aronson)
1965 - Composer And Lyricist -- Musical Play, Winner (Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick)
1965 - Costume Designer, Winner (Patricia Zipprodt)
1965 - Best Musical, Winner (Fiddler on the Roof)
1965 - Director -- Musical Play, Winner (Jerome Robbins)
1965 - Best Composer and Lyricist, Winner (Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick; Music by Jerry Bock)
1982 - Actor (Musical), Nominee (Hershel Bernardi)
1982 - Best Actor in a Musical, Nominee (Herschel Bernardi)
1991 - Best Revival, Winner (Barry and Fran Weissler, PACE Theatrical Group (producers))
1991 - Leading Actor In A Musical, Nominee (Topol)
1991 - Best Revival Of A Musical, Winner (Fiddler on the Roof)
2004 - Best Actor in a Musical, Nominee (Alfred Molina)
2004 - Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Nominee (John Cariani)
2004 - Best Scenic Design, Nominee (Tom Pye)
2004 - Best Lighting Design, Nominee (Brian MacDevitt)
2004 - Best Orchestrations, Nominee (Larry Hochman)
2004 - Best Revival Of A Musical, Nominee (Fiddler on the Roof)

Academy Award

1971 - Best Actor, Nominee (Topol)
1971 - Best Picture, Nominee ()
1971 - Best Supporting Actor, Nominee (Leonard Frey)

Drama Desk Award

2004 - Outstanding Actor in a Musical, Nominee (Alfred Molina)
2004 - Oustanding Set Design, Nominee (Tom Pye)
2004 - Outstanding Revival of a Musical, Nominee (Fiddler on the Roof)

Connect

Playbill Vault (Original)
Playbill Vault (1976 Revival)
Playbill Vault (1981 Revival)
Playbill Vault (1990 Revival)
Playbill Vault (2004 Revival)

Billing

Based on Sholem Aleichem's stories, by special permission of Arnold Perl

Requirements

You must give the authors/creators billing credits, as specified in the Production Contract, in a conspicuous manner on the first page of credits in all programs and on houseboards, displays and in all other advertising announcements of any kind.
Percentages listed indicate required type size in relation to title size.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
 
Based on Sholem Aleichem stories by special permission of Arnold Perl
 
Book by
Music by
Lyrics by
JOSEPH STEIN
JERRY BOCK
SHELDON HARNICK 
Produced on the New York Stage by Harold Prince
 
Original New York Stage Production Directed and Choreographed
by JEROME ROBBINS
 
You shall credit your choreographer as follows:
"Original choreography reproduced by (insert name of your choreographer)."
 
(If your director follows Mr. Robbins' plan of direction, you will add: "Mr. Robbins' Original Direction reproduced by_______________")
Said credit to Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Jerome Robbins shall be in the same size of type and prominence. The size of type and prominence of the credit to Harold Prince shall be 50% and the size of type and prominence of the credit to Sholem Aleichem and Arnold Perl shall be 20% of the size of type and prominence used for credits to each of the names of Messrs.Stein,Bock,Harnick and Robbins.The size of type and prominence of the credit to Messrs. Stein, Bock, Harnick and Robbins shall be at least 1 1/2 times the size & prominence used for credits given to your Director & Choreographer
The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited

Included Materials

ItemQuantity Included
CHOREOGRAPHY MANUAL1
LIBRETTO/VOCAL BOOK26
PIANO VOCAL SCORE2
STUDY GUIDE1

Production Resources

Resource
CUSTOMIZABLE SHOW POSTER
HOW DOES THE SHOW GO ON-10/CS
HOW DOES THE SHOW GO ON?
LOGO PACK
LOGO PACK DIGITAL
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT MEDIUM
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT SMALL
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT X-LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT XX-LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK CHILD LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK CHILD MEDIUM
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK CHILD SMALL
ORCHEXTRA
PERFORMANCE ACCOMPANIMENT RECORDING
PRODUCTIONPRO
REFERENCE RECORDING
REHEARSAL ACCOMPANIMENT RECORDING
REHEARSCORE APP
SCENE PARTNER
SCENIC PROJECTIONS
SCENIC PROJECTIONS PRO
SCENIC PROJECTIONS-ANIMATED
SCENIC PROJECTIONS-STILL
STAGE MANAGER SCRIPT
STAGE WRITE APPLICATION
SUBPLOT CUSTOMIZED SHOW POSTER
VIRTUAL STAGE MANAGER

STANDARD ORCHESTRATION

InstrumentationDoubling
ACCORDION
BASS
CELLO
ERRATA LIST
GUITARACOUSTIC GUITAR , LUTE , MANDOLIN
HORN
PERCUSSIONBELLS , CHIMES , DRUM KIT , FINGER CYMBAL , TAMBOURINE , TIMBALES , TRIANGLE , TYMPANI , WOOD BLOCK , XYLOPHONE
REED 1FLUTE , PICCOLO
REED 2CLARINET
REED 3BASS CLARINET , CLARINET
REED 4BASSOON
REED 5ENGLISH HORN , OBOE
TROMBONE
TRUMPET
TRUMPET 3
VIOLA
VIOLIN

ALTERNATE ORCHESTRATION

InstrumentationDoubling
ALT: ACCORDIAN
ALT: BASS
ALT: CELLO
ALT: GUITAR GUITAR , MANDOLIN
ALT: OPTIONAL KEYBOARD 2
ALT: OPTIONAL TRUMPET 2
ALT: PERCUSSION BELLS , CHIMES , DRUM KIT , FINGER CYMBAL , GLOCKENSPIEL , MARK TREE , TIMBALES , TIMPANI , TRIANGLE , WOOD BLOCK , XYLOPHONE
ALT: REED 1 ALTO FLUTE , FLUTE
ALT: REED 2 Bb CLARINET
ALT: TROMBONE
ALT: TRUMPET
ALT: VIOLIN